News / Canada

Worker-owned, locally grown: New brewery finds 'perfect' fit in east London

Pleased with the pints they were brewing at home, the five members of the London Brewing Cooperative have decided to kick it up a notch and bring their local organic beers to patrons at The Root Cellar.

What started as a “social” activity in 2006 for Jeff Pastorius, David Thuss, Aaron Lawrence, Joel Pastrious and Marcus Rosen, officially became what's believed to be the first worker-owned brewery in anglophone Canada in October.

Located inside the Root Cellar Café in Old East Village, the nanobrewery is finding an appreciative audience in the café’s clientele, who not only like the beer’s taste but the goals of its producers.

“At The Root Cellar, it is about promoting local organic food. Beer is food, it is an agricultural product, and when you look around, we didn’t see any local organic beers,” Lawrence said. “We haven’t always brewed with these ingredients, but it became part of our philosophy, to produce a beer that patrons of The Root Cellar are going to appreciate.”

The co-op has found a way to source all of its ingredients, including barely, from from local suppliers, something they said other breweries in Canada aren't doing.

“The vast majority of craft breweries are using ingredients that are shipped from all over the country,” Jeff Pastorius said. “Our supplier has managed to grow and deliver the only locally grown barley in the region.”

Four of the five founding members of the London Brewing Cooperative, from left, Jeff Pastorius, Aaron Lawrence, David Thuss and Joel Pastorius, absent is Marcus Rosen. (Mark Spowart/For Metro)

One of the three varieties on tap — Local 117 — got its name because its ingredients are sourced within a 117-kilometre radius of the brewery.

Tollpuddle Porter and Harvest Red are the other beers on offer now with two more — Smokey Pumpkin and an American-style wheat beer — coming soon.

From local ingredients to their structure as a co-op, the faces behind the brewery are trying to bring something new to London.

So far, it’s blending well.

Or, as one says, “perfectly.”

“As a group, and the philosophy inside that group, it really is a nice partnership with On The Move Organics and The Root Cellar,” said Jeff Pastorius. “This is a very new idea for London, and London can be a hard place to break into at times, but with the three businesses working together, we are able share the risk of it all.”

Members of the London Brewing Cooperative will be talking about their brewing practices during two special events in November, both at The Root Cellar.

Called Farm to Fork – The People’s Pint, the events run from 6 to 9 p.m. Nov. 12 and Nov. 27. Cost is $50, which includes a three-course meal and a flight of beers.

It’s part of the cellar’s Farm to Fork series where farmers bring in produce and talk about how they grow it. Staff at the café then use it to make a meal.

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